Marty Perlman’s features subjected him to onlookers’ judgements and assumptions. He was five-foot-seven with white Jew curls that told his adversaries interpreting the law in their favor versus his would be arduous.
Marty grew up as an only child in Agoura Hills, California, a suburb with a prevalent Jewish community about thirty-five miles north of Los Angeles.
The Perlman family was part of the one-percent community but lived modestly. Sally Perlman, his mother, took care of the house in their affluent gated neighborhood and dedicated herself to raising Marty. His father, David Perlman, was the head honcho at a wealth management firm. Retired athletes, celebrities, commercial realtors, and big-time board members with limitless bank accounts accounted for his clientele. David was particular about whose money he grew and wasn’t bashful to turn away business generated by someone who made him feel uncomfortable.
“I don’t care what the upside is. Don’t ever get involved with people you don’t feel comfortable with, and your gut tells you otherwise. It will lead to trouble and make you remorseful in the end because all of the headaches it caused could’ve been avoided,” David once told a ten-year-old Marty.
David’s principles made a long-lasting impression on his son.
Marty’s love of the law developed while attending the University of California Los Angeles in the early 2020s. Being in a liberal city during a tumultuous time in America, Marty was conscientious of the world’s injustice. Coming off the recent killings of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd in 2020, Marty immersed himself in a proactive, progressive, and disruptive student body.
Iconic demonstrations and riots occurred the weekend after Floyd’s death. By that time, the country was a few months into its quarantine because of the novel coronavirus, adding to the frustration of injustice. President Donald Trump’s lack of initiative, inciteful comments, and loyalty to his base, a substantial amount consisting of proud racists, during this hardship amplified the tension.
Especially since law enforcement killing members of the African American community was a common occurrence.
In July 2020, a journalist asked President Trump why African Americans were still dying at the hands of law enforcement in the US. He immediately answered, “So are White people, so are White people. What a terrible question to ask. So are White people. More White people, by the way. More White people.”
Arbery and Floyd were not the only notable Black people senselessly killed in that era.
Breonna Taylor, shot in her sleep.
Steven Taylor, shot in a Walmart.
Philando Castile, killed during a traffic stop.
Walter Scott, shot on the run.
Tamir Rice, a twelve-year-old killed at a park.
Michael Brown, shot six times.
Eric Garner, wrestled to the ground before dying from a chokehold.
The roots of the justice system’s fatal flaws did not start in 2020. In fact, police brutality may have been less frequent, but smart phones and the Internet exposed when they did occur. Progress was not moving fast enough.
Hearing stories from Americans across the country suffering from unlawfulness resonated with Marty. As a proud member of the Jewish community, he took the time to educate himself on his own ancestors’ experiences in concentration camps during World War II. He took it upon himself to be well versed on the consequences of mass incarceration.
Learning how harmful the Thirteenth Amendment and organizations like the American Legislative Exchange Council were for minorities, particularly Blacks, made Marty’s blood boil. As he delved deeper into its damaging effects and discovered how prevalent they still were in society, Marty familiarized himself with the works of those like Bryan Stevenson, a lawyer whose life’s work revolved around exonerating wrongfully convicted prisoners and removing them from death row before it was too late. Despite the sad realities he became privy to, Marty found inspiration in this. It was then he identified his calling was to fight for those in need. Marty dedicated his life to fixing a broken system most were too afraid to stand up to.
Coronavirus allowed Marty’s whereabouts to be flexible when it came to his undergraduate and law school classes. His professors allowed him and his peers to attend lectures and take tests virtually, and as traveling by car became more common, Marty found himself on the road more often than he ever imagined, heading from one Airbnb to the next with a group of social justice warriors he met at a time classes still met in-person. He spent the next twenty years driving around the country further educating himself on the pitfalls of America’s history, becoming an activist in parts of the country needing it the most, demonstrating in front of the White House, raising hell on Wall Street, exposing Silicon Valley’s finest intrusive practices in their own backyard, and attending political rallies of candidates he supported all while finishing up school on the go.
By the end of his journey, Marty’s resume consisted of endless accolades and an impressive education.
It wasn’t until after his country-wide social justice tour when Marty began to turn his attention to Morple’s corruption and systemic racism. He had discovered his niche.